From books to movies, instruction manuals to ads, I’ve been watching, reading, and listening to translated materials all my life. I know what makes bad translation, but never gave a second thought about what makes a good one.
Since starting at Alltradis, I’ve been more conscious of what constitutes good translation. In the end, the answer was quite simple: good translation adds value. Take, for example, a cosmetic company. Many wheels must turn, and do so in harmony, to make it into a success in a competitive market. A well-made product, beautiful packaging, effective marketing—these qualities add value to the brand. So does good translation.
The ultimate goal of translation is to translate so that the brand’s words and identity resonates across all cultures.
How does translation add value? How I see it, there are three big ways:
- Thinking globally as the brand
- Translating the brand
- Understanding the market and the project
Thinking globally as the brand
In every language and culture, there are linguistic preferences and nuances. Even when a phrase is grammatically correct, small linguistic hiccups can disturb the fluidity or professional façade. For example, Nike is famous slogan, “Just do it.” It is memorable, and impactful. Its literal translation in Chinese, however, doesn’t carry the same meaning and impact. Translators opted for “Have sport,” which may be confusing in English, but impactful in Chinese. Knowing the languages are important, but knowing how they work is just as essential in great translation.
Translating the brand
Brand image and identity often influences the tone in which the brand communicates with its clients. While Google opts for a friendly, familial tone, Chanel remains a little distanced, professional, and reserved. The brand identity can take years to create. Its language professionals must be aware of the corporate culture and patterns to translate the essence of the brand. This only comes with years of experience with the same brand, which places importance on trust and loyalty between business and its translator.
Understanding the market and the project
Every market or industry has a certain style and speech pattern. Only experienced translators know how to navigate through the different industries, and know the linguistic nuances and linguistic preferences of the market. In the detail-oriented world of the medical and the pharmaceutical industries, a small misuse of a word ccome with grave consequences. In the creative world of marketing, however, incorporating puns, and references can be smart and funny.
All this is to say translation is more than just churning out words. Adding human elements to the work, like considering the cultural and corporate context and the market, and doing it well is what sets good translation agency apart from great ones.
A great translation agency has:
- open flow of communication with the client (and welcomes input),
- knowledge and experience in your market and brand,
- a translation-proofreading process, and is open to communicate about it, and
- (or is willing to reccomend) creative copywriters or specializing proofreaders, should your project require them.
Can you think of other ways translation adds value to your brand and to your project? And what other qualities do great translation agencies have?
Since its creation in 1995, Alltradis has translated over 19,000 written projects in various language combinations, organized simultaneous interpreting for the largest international conferences and gathered a long list of loyal clients. Alltradis has truly become a fundamental part of their success. We specialize in diverse industries such as; medical/pharmaceutical translation, cosmetic/luxury product translation, technical and industrial translation, marketing/finance/HR translation, legal translation, etc.
Many world leading companies trust our expertise – what are you waiting for? For more information, visit our website: www.alltradis.us